Hey James O’Keefe! Here’s how you punk the media:
If we had to get punked, we’re glad it was by the Yes Men, who have quite a track record of pulling really convincing stunts. Their slightly off URL, www.chevron-press.com, was a spitting-image spoof of the real www.chevron.com. Also, Yes Men hucksters clearly watch Mad Men as often as we do and were riding high from Don Draper’s nuclear-option “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco” letter in the New York Times.
Yes Men’s version involved an ad with a smiling elderly indigenous man wearing a bandana, with the words “OIL COMPANIES SHOULD CLEAN UP THEIR MESSES,” along with a red stamp that reads “We Agree”–followed by the signatures of Chevron higher-ups. The ad was supposed to be a reference to a years-long lawsuit in Ecuador, where Chevron is accused of being responsible for $27 billion of oil pollution clean-up costs. Chevron.com refers to the Ecuadorian lawsuit as “a meritless case”; according to the Christian Science Monitor , Chevron has taken out quarter-page newspaper ads with defensive headlines like “the fraud of the century.” Nevertheless, Ecuadorians appeared to be the heroes of Chevron’s new ad campaign. It was fake, we now know.
Well, don’t feel so bad: you weren’t alone! Advertising Age also fell for the hoax, as did AFP and some online energy journals.
SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 – Earlier today, a group of environmentalists cyber-posing as Chevron officials illegally spoofed Chevron’s just-launched “We Agree” advertising campaign. While such a campaign does exist, its official URL is Chevron.com/weagree. The advertisements released earlier today, at Chevron-weagree.com, were an elaborate subterfuge and must not be mistaken as real.
“Chevron does not take this attack lightly,” said Hewitt Pate, General Counsel for Chevron. “We invest extremely heavily in our campaigns, and we take them extremely seriously. Such actions can never be tolerated.” Though the exact cost of “We Agree” must remain confidential, Chevron routinely spends $90 million per year on US advertising alone.
Pate also noted that the environmentalists have made libellous allegations regarding Chevron’s record and obligations in Ecuador and beyond. “Despite what some will say, we are not obliged to abide by decisions that Ecuadorian judges make or do not make. This is because we have binding agreements with the Ecuadorian Government exempting us from any liabilities whatsoever, granted in exchange for a $40 million cleanup of some wells by Texaco in the 1990s.”
See! That totally proves that they didn’t do anything wrong! Nothing whatsoever! Because Chevron cares! And they proved it by signing a binding agreement with the government of Ecuador to clean up some wells. Problem solved! Agree?
|A Real Chevron Press Release. Accept No Substitutes.|